Ford proposal on chief constable job rejected by board

Justice Minister David Ford
Justice Minister David Ford

The Policing Board has formally rejected a controversial proposal from Stormont’s Justice Minister to alter the recruitment criteria for the next chief constable.

A majority of members voted to maintain the current framework for selecting the Province’s top officer when Matt Baggott retires in the autumn.

Minister David Ford faced a storm of criticism from political rivals last month when he announced his intention to remove the mandatory requirement for Mr Baggott’s successor to have served two years at senior rank outside Northern Ireland.

In its formal response to the minister’s statutory consultation on his draft proposal, the board, which is responsible for the recruitment exercise, will now reject the move.

The final decision on whether to change the criteria rests with the Executive, but given a majority of politicians on the board have now dismissed the idea, coming only days after Mr Ford was criticised by a range of Assembly members on Stormont’s justice committee, it seems inevitable that the suggestion will be voted down when it is tabled before ministers in Stormont Castle.

The Justice Minister had originally argued the decision should have been his to make, but DUP First Minister Peter Robinson and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness intervened and used their powers to refer it to the Executive.

Mr Baggott was appearing before the board yesterday for the first time since he informed members of his decision to retire.

However, he declined to publicly elaborate on his move, insisting his priority was leading the PSNI for his remaining time in office.